Trauma & PTSD
If you have ever experienced a traumatic event—such as abuse, sexual assault, military combat, or any number of other events—you may understand how trauma can impact a person’s psychological and emotional functioning. Experiencing trauma can result in longer term effects such as flashbacks, bad dreams, or panic attacks.
In basic terms 'trauma' is an experience, whether it's a one-off event, series of events or an ongoing situation or relationship that fundamentally threatens your sense of safety or security. Experiencing a mixture of the two is known as complex PTSD or C-PTSD.
Being with a narcissist (or an active addict or a partner with emotionally unstable or anti-social-type personality disorders) is highly and chronically stressful, often unpredictable, abusive, neglectful, involves lies and betrayal, rejection and punishment...
You rarely know where you stand with a narcissist so it's impossible to ever really feel safe and secure in the relationship. Without the ability to rest in a safe or secure, stable, containing or trusting relationship your nervous system then never gets a chance to calm or settle.
Instead you find yourself living in a more or less permanent state of heightened arousal. You feel on edge, are jumpy, anxious, emotional, tearful, cranky and prone to further symptoms of stress and trauma.
Victims of narcissistic abuse syndrome have many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including but not limited to, the following:
Flashbacks and nightmares. Reliving the trauma from narcissistic abuse.
Being on-alert 24/7 waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Easily startled. Loud or unexpected noises make one jump.
Feeling detached from one’s emotions or body.
Avoidance behaviour. Avoiding situations like large crowds or anything that reminds one of the abuse.
Avoiding intimate relationships. Not being able to trust others or believing others to be dangerous hampers any form of intimacy.
Lack of emotional regulation. Having uncontrollable emotions such as chronic sadness or anger.
An inaccurate perception of the narcissist. Being preoccupied with the relationship between the victim and the narcissist or continuously thinking of revenge.
An overwhelming sense of guilt or shame. Feeling utterly different from other people and not worthy of life.
Although other symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder are caused by narcissistic abuse, the above list is enough to tell the horrific story of those who fall victim to narcissistic abuse.
Finding the right kind of help makes a huge difference to getting past the 'stuckness' following an abusive relationship and can be a key support in feeling better and moving on.
It is absolutely possible to heal from the trauma of narcissistic abuse, to feel better, to move on and get to a place where you can bring an end to unhealthy relationship patterns, rebuild trust and enjoy healthier, more fulfilling and loving relationships. The journey to this healing is a worthwhile one - one you deserve - and sometimes it's an absolutely necessary one.
For more information and a practical self-help guide to recovery from Narcissistic Abuse check out the following three books that we feel should be the core reading for anyone subjected to narcissistic abuse or to read to prevent it.